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Electric Executives' Forum - Summer 2001: Are You Ready?

Demand-side programs are all the rage as utilities scramble to find power to serve peak loads.
Fortnightly Magazine - June 1 2001

dockets we have filed with the Wyoming Public Service Commission, we do have several programs of demand-side management-programs for residential and business customers alike. We are encouraging the utilization or consumption of kilowatt-hours on a very conscientious basis. That's not to say that our consumers have not been conscientious. Again, there's just more emphasis being placed on it right now, recognizing the supply-demand imbalance and of course the related prices.

We do also have a part of that docket ... for proposals ... [for] some type of a buyback program. Again, all proposed and nothing on the books yet.

What other programs have you proposed?

For residential, we would have a program such as going out and acquiring more energy efficient appliances as rated by the Department of Energy. We also have just recently announced as part of the whole Xcel Energy Corporation [Cheyenne's parent company] for those customers on natural gas, there is a program where they could get low-cost loans to go out there and ... do some type of weatherization to their homes. These are some basic programs that we have had some success with in other service territories within our corporation, so hopefully we can mirror that success and our customers can benefit as well.

Have you been in touch with any government agencies with regard to contingency plans?

[As of late April] there have been general discussions. It's all part of the docket [for a rate case increase] that we have in front of the Wyoming commission ... . There have not been any real detailed questions outside of what we have in front of the commission.

Have you been in communication with customers about this summer?

Not in any great detail because, again, our plans do not show that we would have any type of system problems with regards to delivery.

Closing thoughts?

Again, a lot of it depends on what Mother Nature will bring here with respect to a hot extended season. Unfortunately the forecast does show warmer than normal temperatures. We're hoping for our neighbors up in the Northwest that they're going to get some relief from the droughts and perhaps get some spring and summer rains.

Gary Zarker
S eattle City Light

"We're moving very aggressively on wind generation in our state. There's quite a bit of that coming online. ... We believe we have one of the cleanest portfolios anywhere, and our customers expect it."

Forward Thinking

Seattle City Light looks to wind farms, small generators, and community awareness to keep the lights on in the Pacific Northwest.

Extremely tight margins in Washington raise the possibility of blackouts should a plant go offline. Does this apply to your service territory?

There's a pretty strong wholesale marketplace here and interconnected grid. We are concerned that it is stretched to its limits, although I think Seattle City Light is capable of withstanding normal reliability issues. I'm not as assured of that as in the past, so we're talking with our customers, commercial and residential, about preparation for blackouts, but mostly from the standpoint